A survey published on August 23 provides information on the practices of American Christians who attend church. The results are more or less surprising depending on the subject, and we learn that nearly one in six evangelicals say they have participated in an abortion. The vast majority, however, say they would like to receive teaching on social issues at church.
As American society experiences moral change and conflict, the Family Research Council's Center for Biblical Worldview sought to learn what practicing Christians' overall view of faith and issues such as abortion is, and what they expected of their religious communities. The results of the published survey were published under the title "Survey on Adult Churchgoers on Social Issues and Worldview" (Adult Churchgoers in Social Issues and Worldview Survey). The study was conducted in June under the direction of evangelical pollster George Barna among 1 American adults who attend a religious service at least once a year. months in church or online, a sample that gives an idea of the views of 009% of Americans.
What are the worldviews of American Christians?
Pollsters explored how people can develop a biblical worldview. The study concludes that the more the biblical foundations are assimilated, the more defined the vision. George Barna and his team at the Center for Cultural Research at Arizona Christian University have identified seven beliefs without which it is very unlikely that a person will develop a life of consistently biblical thought and action. These seven cornerstones are:
- “An orthodox and biblical understanding of God.”
- “All human beings are sinful by nature; every choice we make has moral considerations and consequences.”
- "The consequences of our sin can only be forgiven and blotted out through Jesus Christ. This forgiveness is only possible if we personally and sincerely recognize and confess our sins and if we rely entirely on his grace for the forgiveness of these sins."
- "The whole Bible is true, reliable and relevant, making it the best moral guide for anyone, in any situation."
- “Absolute moral truth exists – and these truths are defined by God, described in the Bible, and are unchanging across time and cultures.”
- "The ultimate goal of human life is to know, love and serve God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and with all your soul."
- “The best way to succeed on earth is to constantly obey God, in thought, word and deed.”
The conclusions of the survey reveal that many practitioners do not check the seven boxes:
- Christians do not firstly agree on how to see God, only 68% declare that he is the omnipotent, omniscient, just and perfect creator. 12% of practitioners believe that God means the total realization of personal and human potential or a higher state of consciousness that a person can achieve; 9% believe a higher power may exist, but no one knows for sure; 4% believe that everyone is god, and 4% that there are many gods, each with different purposes and authority. The others do not speak.
- Only 41% of churchgoers believe that “people are born into sin and can only be saved from its consequences through Jesus Christ”. The majority of respondents chose other visions such as the idea that human beings are neither good nor bad at birth, but become good or bad through the accumulation of their life choices (28%); 11% think that it is society that corrupts human nature. Among those who speak out, there are also 11% who believe that “everyone is a divine creature engaged in the eternal pursuit of unity and a perfected consciousness”, sharing therein an Eastern mystical belief.
- Regarding the third cornerstone identified by Barna, namely salvation acquired only by faith in Christ, only 47% of practitioners believe that they will live eternally with God because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. 13% believe that God will save all men out of love, 11% believe that they will go to Heaven because they have tried hard enough to be good and deserve the reward, 10% that they will go to a place of purification before entering Paradise, 6% that they will be reincarnated and 5% that they will cease to exist. 7% have no opinion.
- Regarding the authority of the Bible, 33% have a literalist reading of it, the same percentage believes that the Bible does not contain errors but that verses have a symbolic value. 13% think that the Bible is just one sacred book among others, neither more nor less reliable; 12% believe it is the inspired word of God but contains factual or historical errors, while 5% believe it is an influential text but not divinely inspired. The others are without opinion.
- The fifth cornerstone retained by Barna concerns the existence of an absolute moral truth. 48% agree with the relativist statement that “there are no moral absolutes that apply to everyone, all the time; moral truth depends on each individual”. On the other hand, only 43% of practicing Christians do not agree with this notion, while 9% do not comment.
- Asked to pronounce on the meaning of human life, 53% say that it is a question of "knowing, loving and serving God with all one's heart, with all one's mind, with all one's strength and with all one's soul" , regardless of culture. 13% believe that the goal is to create a more humane society through dialogue, reason and good will; 9% to experience happiness and fulfillment; 8% to order and give direction to your life based on what matters to you. 7% believe that the meaning of life is to flourish through relationships and productivity, 5% think that the goal is to advance peace and understanding in the world. For 2%, there is no general goal in life, and 4% do not comment. The study highlights that 63% of adult converts say they are still searching for their purpose in life.
- Finally, regarding the best way to succeed on Earth, only 39% agree with the seventh cornerstone defined by Barna, namely "constant obedience to God". The others believe in being a good person (15%), living a healthy and productive life without economic oppression (10%) or have an oriental mystical approach consisting of wanting to "reach the highest possible level of consciousness and know unity with the universe". (7%).
This disparate aspect of beliefs among practitioners is accompanied by a diversity of moral points of view on social subjects.
The view of abortion among practicing Christians
Among these practitioners, 20% say they do not have a biblical worldview; however, 88% think it is important for Christians to have a biblical worldview, while 6% think it is not.
A majority think that the Bible is clear and decisive on the definition of legitimate marriage (75% - 14% that it is not clear, 7% that it does not speak about it); 66% think that it is clear and decisive on divorce, while 18% think that it is not, 9% that it does not talk about it and 7% have no opinion.
Regarding the main subject of society that mobilizes evangelicals, 65% think that the Bible is clear about abortion, while 15% think no, 13% that it does not talk about it and 8% have no opinion.
In detail and in practice, 16% of evangelical adults admit to having already paid for, encouraged or chosen to resort to an abortion. 36% declare themselves “pro-life, with some exceptions and limitations”, 27% “pro-life, without exceptions or limitations”; 5% say they are “rather pro-life, but could be convinced otherwise.” 14% say they are "pro-choice, with some exceptions or limitations" and 8% say they are "pro-choice, no exceptions or limitations", while 5% say they are "somewhat pro-choice, but could be convinced by opposite".
Among the cases of abortion, 35% of respondents think that it is in no way acceptable, 19% think that the Bible approves it when the mother's life is in danger, 10% that it is a decision which concerns only the couple, or even 7% that abortion is acceptable if the child will have significant physical or mental difficulties.
It is above all moral and religious beliefs that have the most influence on the opinion of adult Christians regarding abortion (71%), while only a minority is influenced by political considerations (11%) or preferences. and opinions of the general public (also 11%). 8% do not know what influences their positions on abortion.
David Closson, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Biblical Worldview commented on the figures in the Washington Stand by making a comparison with the largest American evangelical denomination in order to visualize the phenomenon:
"To put these percentages into perspective, consider the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest Protestant denomination in the nation. In 2023, the total membership in SBC's 47198 churches was 13,2 million. If we apply the 16% figure from the FRC and Lifeway surveys, approximately 2,1 million Southern Baptists have, at some point, actively participated in an abortion. In other words, we can conclude that millions of conservative Christians on the theologically have a personal history with abortion, even if they don't talk about it."
Regarding support for women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, 58% want their church to help them more, 6% want it to help them less, while 29% want their church to stay the same.
Despite the sometimes clear-cut answers, social issues generate requests for information from respondents, 71% of whom “wish that their church offers additional training” regarding “abortion and the value of life” and human sexuality (68%). However, more of them want training from their church on social and political responsibility (79%).